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Trends in the meeting industry that you don’t want to miss

The meeting industry never stands still. Meetings where people sit and just listen belong to the past. Over the years, meetings have become much more interactive and attractive. The meeting industry is constantly changing and evolving. In this article, you will read what trends will appear in the following years and what you can expect of them.

Conference catering

The time of long elaborate meals at large tables with heavy meals and drinks is over. Conference attendees now expect a more extensive culinary experience during coffee breaks, lunch or dinner but at the same time, more balanced options as well. The food must be healthy and more and more people pay attention to the fact if the food is ecological. Subsequently, meeting organizers start requesting meeting locations to focus more on food waste. Food surpluses from buffets and banquets must be recycled or donated to social organizations.

On the other hand, meals served at tables will be replaced by upright receptions or walking dinners focused on networking between the participants. Meals will be replaced by a wide selection of finger food and healthy cocktails will come instead of the ubiquitous glass of cava.

Special eating habits are becoming the new standard with an emerging group of people who follow certain diets due to medical or religious reasons. It is up to the caterer to respond to this variety of demand and to adapt to the individual guest. Specially prepared meals must be nutritious and adjacent to the other menu options.

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Wellbeing

Meeting organizers are looking for ways to increase the well-being of their participants. It will get more common to organize activities and not have a full day of meetings. For example, a business meeting in the morning and a team building activity in the afternoon.

Furthermore, the demand for breakout rooms will become even greater. Luminous breakout rooms with a lot of daylight or even breakout rooms located outside have a positive effect on mental health. Meeting rooms with daylight are certainly a big plus to have and will increase the well-being of conference participants.

Conference organizers also try to personalize meetings, conferences and seminars and make them unique. Some do this by providing a local meal but others go a step further and organize the entire event in a theme e.g. “Dress like a local”.

"Conference organizers invite more and more audience warmers to start the meeting and entertain the guests. The objective is to break the ice and to create a more comfortable atmosphere," says Evelien Elpers, Hotel Planner Supervisor at Thon Hotel Brussels City Centre.

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Interactive meetings

Conferences often consist of large meeting groups. These become disruptive and are divided into smaller work groups to increase guests’ commitment and productivity. On the other hand, attractive presentations will drag your attention using the concept of “Agile”, presentations based on drawings and personal involvement using e.g. Lego blocks.

Another emerging trend is the one of technology in the meeting industry. Meetings will become more interactive and challenging. Photos displayed on the website from meeting rooms are no longer sufficient, a video is much more attractive and a 360° tour is the top. Like this, meeting planners can virtually explore the facilities without having to go the venue and can easily visualize the conference facilities.

Using technology, you can also personalize your event and make it unique. What can you do to personalize your event?

  • Use a hashtag for your event
  • Livestream your conference via social media
  • Organize online polls/ voting systems or contests to interact with your audience
  • Live language translations of the speakers
  • Create an app specifically for your event
  • GPS localisation of the event for in- and outside the venue

It is up to the meeting venues to provide a fast and secured Wifi network to support all these functions.

Grasp Green meetings

Considering ecological or environmental friendly actions are not just for the food & beverage sector. By extending and implementing the green concept to the meeting rooms, you will create a massive positive brand awareness. Even more, event organisers are looking for green, ecological and organic meetings. This can be done by using recycled or reusable materials, serving an organic and local meal, offering recyclable paper; posters and banners, reducing waste-, water- and energy consumption.

Creating “Bleisure”

Have you ever heard of “bleisure”? It is a combination of business and leisure, a combination of work and private. The five-day working week is not filled anymore from one to five and employees are no longer located at the same workplace throughout the working days. Desks and workplaces become increasingly flexible and companies no longer expect employees to work from the same place. That is why home workplaces and co-working spaces are more and more common. Employees work one day in a hip co-working space and the next day sit at home or at the office. Employees are requesting to have balance between work and private life and at the same time, work and leisure time become more and more mingled.

In addition, there is also a rising trend in wanderlust among business guests. People no longer book 1 or 2 long vacations per year, but many more vacations of a shorter duration. It is therefore common for business guests to stay 1 or 2 extra days longer in the hotel after or before the congress to visit the city or country. Very often, their family also join during these days of leisure time.

The possibilities are endless to create “bleisure” and therefore it will be an emerging trend in the coming years.

It is not just 1 trend, it will be a combination

Trends often tend to pass quickly, but the aforementioned trends will last for years and evolve even further. Conference organizers and meeting venues will not only respond to one of the trends but also need to find a way to combine the different trends and to adapt to them in a creative and flexible way.